Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sarah's Story


It's hard to recall details about someone long dead. That, unfortunately, is my lot when I attempt finding any information on the life of another of my mother-in-law's third great-grandmothers. Today, we'll lay down the basics on what I do already know of Sarah Howard Ijams—and get ready to launch into a new month of research on the fifth goal in finding my Twelve Most Wanted Ancestors for 2021.

I first encountered Sarah's story while working backwards in time on my mother-in-law's family tree. You know how it is: you start with yourself (well, in this case, my mother-in-law), then you take a step backwards to the previous generation. Once I gathered all the information I needed on my mother-in-law's parents, it was time to move to the previous generation once again.

Eventually, I arrived at Sarah's own story. Sarah married a soldier who had served in the War of 1812, a man by the rather common name of John Jay Jackson. There is a lot yet to be discovered about their initial meeting, despite my having written about it before. You see, while Sarah was supposedly born in Maryland—at least, according to statements offered by the two of her children surviving until the 1880 census—and her family was living in Ohio before her marriage, she somehow traveled to a military outpost near Saint Louis to wed this soldier.

There is obviously a lot of detail missing from this story.

On the other side of that mystery, Sarah bore John Jackson at least four children: two daughters, then two sons. And then, she died.

Although I have yet to find any documentation even for her death, Sarah must have died early in 1829—at least after the birth of her son Robert on December 30 of the previous year, and before the August 28, 1829, date of widower John Jackson's marriage to Miss Mary Grate.

I've struggled with this passage of family history for such a long time without much more success than the observations I've recounted here, and written in much more detail in the past. One thing I realized, though: I've always approached this story by following the records of John Jackson. There are several reasons for that. Not only did he outlive Sarah, but in that era, it was the man's identity which figured most prominently in tracing a family's timeline.

Perhaps, though, this might not have been the most effective strategy for finding Sarah. What I propose doing, for this research attempt, is to jump ahead and examine what documents can be found on Sarah's parents—at least, the parents so many researchers affirm to have been hers. Much as I did in April for the question of another third great-grandmother, Mary Carroll, next month I'll delve into what can be found on Elizabeth Howard and William Ijams, in the hopes that they left some records which include mention of their long-departed daughter Sarah. 

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